Concentrating Solar Thermal Power Continues Growing Despite Economic Uncertainty

Usual suspects Spain and the USA lead the industry with a combined market share of over 90% of projects under construction. New markets open up in MENA, Australia and India where 1.9 GW of CSP (concentrating solar power) have been announced, according to a new report by CSP Today.

Concentrated Solar Thermal Power (CSP) bucks the downward economic trend by continuing to grow apace despite tough economic times, according to the Concentrated Solar Power Markets Report by CSP Today. In Spain, despite widespread fears of government over borrowing and economic difficulties, the industry added 320 MW from the beginning of 2009 until June 2010, increasing operating CSP capacity by 500%.

Enthusiasm for the Spanish market was briefly dampened by regulatory uncertainty but doubts have now been dispelled as the CSP industry reached an agreement with the government over feed-in-tariffs, clearing the way for the completion of the 1500 MW of projects currently under construction.

This positive picture is likely to be repeated across other markets. After a slow start, the US market is expected to grow explosively in the coming years with 10 GW of projects under development. As in Spain, government support has been instrumental in supporting CSP. In the USA, the largest projects to go ahead in recent times, Brightsource Energy’s 400 MW Ivanpah project and Abengoa’s 250 MW Solana plant have been backed up by Loan Guarantees from the federal government.

New markets are also opening up all around the world. Australia is starting to wake up to its solar potential with 817 MW of projects under development and growth is also expected in India, where government incentives, given by the India Solar Mission, have encouraged the construction of 20 MW and 130 MW of project announcements.

But amongst the new CSP markets, the largest build up of CSP capacity expected in MENA where 1430 MW of projects have been announced. Growth in this region has been spurred by funding from various supra-national and industry bodies such as the World Bank, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Desertec Industrial Initiative and the Evergreen project.

This new build up in CSP capacity represents a great opportunity for suppliers and service providers in the industry. According to CSP Today’s new report, The Concentrated Solar Power Markets Report, the US market alone could be worth as much as US$ 70 billion. Were the ambitious build up programs in other countries to get of the ground the figure could be five times as high.